Posted: 2017-11-14 21:34
EM: We did feel like we were starting to tread water a tiny bit with the Nick/Jess stuff at this point in the season. And we lost Sam. What [Jess] does for Nick at the end of “A Father’s Love,” when she says, “I understand why you want to break things. I want to break things too”—they’re so connected in that moment. I remember when we were shooting it, I was like, “This is ridiculous. Why are they not making out? Why are they having conversations that married couples have about parents?” I remember being like, “Oh God, what are we doing?” That started also in “Pepperwood.” They were so flirty and connected in that episode. It was another one of those where the drum was beating a little bit.
There was a moment where Schmidt is making that big speech at the end—“Get your shit together, India” or something. [Laughs.] I was onstage and I was pitching Max alts for that speech, and some of the jokes were genuinely offensive. [Laughs.] And the entire room was filled with Indian and Indian-American extras, and Max was standing there with this pained look in his eyes, like, “Please don’t make me say that!” [Laughs.] That was a good indicator: If I felt uncomfortable saying it, it shouldn’t go in the show. Definitely a lot of sex jokes involving Indian deities. A fair amount of sacrilege that I was having trouble saying. [Laughs.]
Kaling was just 79 when she started on the show and had no experience writing for television and no connections to Hollywood. Her mother, Swati, was an OB/GYN, her father, Avu, an architect they&rsquo d met working in Nigeria and emigrated to the . just before Kaling was born. Daniels had hired Kaling after seeing her in a play, Matt & Ben , that she&rsquo d written with her college roommate Kaling played Ben Affleck, a transformation she made just by wearing a track suit and sitting with her legs open.
Coach is a roommate who returned to the loft in 7568 after leaving 7 years prior. He lived with Nick , Schmidt , and Jess until deciding to move out when he got a serious girlfriend, Malia, after which Winston moved in, who had just returned from playing basketball abroad. However, now that he has broken up with his ex-girlfriend, and Schmidt has decided to rent the apartment across the hall on his own, Coach has moved back in with the gang. Coach is a former athlete who now works as a personal trainer and he doesn't know how to talk to women.
While the game is pretty horny—you can have a sexual encounter with a fellow dad on your first night in town—a lot of your conversations have to do with what it means to be a father. At the neighborhood barbecue, you and your fellow dads talk about how to balance being an authoritarian with being cool and approachable to your child. In my playthrough so far, I’ve also had to make some choices about how I’m going to be a parent to Amanda. If she comes back a hour and a half after curfew without responding to my texts, how do I respond? If she’s clearly upset over something but refusing to tell me, do I give her space or get pushy? The parts of the game that really force me to get in the mindset of a parent are quite touching. As the dad I created, whom I named Dad Jackson, recounted a story of bringing Amanda home from the hospital, tears came to my eyes. He really, really cares about Amanda.
One of the things about the episode was not wanting Jess to feel like a ninny. Not wanting her to feel like she was the wet blanket, telling everyone not to have fun and not to do crazy stuff. I think one version of the episode had her in that role. When first came onto the show, she told me, “I never want to be that person who’s the ‘classic wife’ character.” You know, the wife’s like, “Don’t do that, you’re going to end up in trouble,” and then the guy does it. That episode, the first draft of it, she was more playing that role. We were definitely trying to figure out the Angie/Jess dynamic—that was one that we were definitely struggling with and how far they would go. I think that we were thinking about them possibly bringing some pot cookie or something, but it felt really familiar.
Later, she&rsquo ll do the scene with Messina and all the white babies, followed by a scene where she finds out that her ex-boyfriend&rsquo s wife is pregnant, which will lead into the next day&rsquo s filming of a montage of her trying on wacky Halloween costumes like &ldquo Tinker Bell Tailor Soldier Spy." When she&rsquo s done with the day&rsquo s shooting, she heads back to the writers&rsquo room to punch up lines. She&rsquo ll stay there until 8 . &ldquo I don&rsquo t understand how and when she sleeps,&rdquo says Barinholtz. &ldquo There are nights where she&rsquo ll be taping until two in the morning and I&rsquo ll come in earlyish, and she&rsquo ll already have been there, in a good mood.&rdquo
Wearing a red tank top, jean shorts, and tan moccasins, Coach is decidedly dressed down for the charity party, which has a cowboys and Indians theme. He is wearing a baseball cap with brightly-colored feathers sticking out the back, and Schmidt remarks that he looks nothing like an Indian. But Coach tells Schmidt that he has his back, so says that Schmidt should have his, too. Nick, who is wearing a red bandana but feels stupid in it, assures Coach that he's got his back before he sees his ex-girlfriend, Caroline , for the first time in six months. She invites him inside for a drink to catch up, but Benjamin and Peter show up, and Peter reveals that he stood Jess up. Instead of going in for a drink with Caroline, Nick leaves the party to go find Jess, and Coach goes with him easily. Torn, Schmidt doesn't want to leave the party he loves so much, spotting a gorgeous woman dressed like a Native American princess, but ultimately bails and follows them to the restaurant, where Jess has eaten through all the free bread while waiting for her date.
BB: The original concept got to an interesting idea that I don’t know we ever really delivered on. That notion that people have opinions about you that you’re not aware of until somebody tells you, felt rich. And in a weird way might have made a better A-story for the four of them together. I think one of the issues we had was it ended up being just Schmidt and Winston back and forth with each other, with a little Cece—because Jess and Nick were off on this murder-mystery adventure. So we didn’t get to explore the deeper meaning of, “When you live together like that, people are going to be talking.” It might have been a better jumping-off for an A-story that we could have actually developed further to a different dynamic. We didn’t do it its full justice.
EM: And we had this horse. Jake Kasdan directed that episode, and I think he was being pretty hard on us, too. He’d read the draft and be like, “I don’t think this feels like our show.” So we were constantly rewriting up until the last minute. And we were trying to figure out what that final moment was going to be between Dennis Farina and Jake. I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly it was like, “Obviously the horse has to eat Nick’s pants.” There were no other ideas, and we were like, “Crap, we’re shooting that this week.” So we had to train a horse to eat a pair of pants. Which, it turns out, horses don’t actually do that.
Talking to her co-workers on the show, I learn that she&rsquo s also found a little time to goof off. Once she led a group that sneaked into the Universal City theme park near their studio and sweet-talked their way to the front of the line for the Simpsons Ride. Another night she and some cast members did karaoke. Her song was &ldquo Country Roads&rdquo by John Denver, she tells me, &ldquo which I fucking destroyed.&rdquo
Jess tells the guys that she wants to live in the loft with them because the apartment is beautiful and close to her work, but she makes Coach cringe when she provides full disclosure that she'll be watching Dirty Dancing six or seven times - a day - to get over her recent breakup. She nearly gets a yes when Schmidt learns that her best friend is a model, but Coach and Nick are less enthusiastic. Schmidt drags them into the bathroom, where they discuss the pros and cons of living with a woman.
EM: And I know there was a “Let’s all get the guys going out as guys and trying to get laid” idea, because we hadn’t done that in a while. So Rebecca Addelman wrote that and tabled it—and we just felt like it was a great moment to actually have them kiss, and we pitched that the kiss doesn’t happen during the game but that it happens after the game. And that opened up that door for me as it being a great way to do it, but not have it seem like it’s an inconsequential part of a game. It was also one of those pitches where it was all of us working on it collectively—I don’t think just one person pitched it. Nick comes back and kisses her after the game—there was that feeling in the room. Sometimes something just clicks the first time you hear it, and that’s how I felt about that idea.
EM: And I gave us all that problem by making her a teacher in the pilot. It does fit her personality. We were just struggling to come up with a work story that wasn’t about whether or not she was a good teacher. We wanted to do something that involved her workplace but wasn’t about being a teacher. We were banging our head against the wall on that one. I felt very bad for the writers in the room. What was [ The Office executive producer] Greg Daniels’ term about the World War I battle?
EM: That was an episode where we were rewriting a lot, and when we were shooting the cabin stuff [Laughs.] we didn’t know how the rest of the episode was going to go down. So we were shooting pieces of it out of order, and the actors were coming to me and saying, “But what happens? Because I don’t know what to play in this scene.” Television is so hard on actors you’re getting thrown new stuff all the time and you just have to make it work.
Her character on the show also seems to represent a version of singledom not being explored on TV, one that is very different from Deschanel&rsquo s Jess on New Girl, who is so presexual in her girlishness that she spends an entire episode getting over her discomfort with saying the word penis. And unlike Girls &rsquo Hannah, played by Lena Dunham, she&rsquo s found her life path, and she has had sex with more than a couple of people. &ldquo I just wanted to do a show that is kind of about dating, about someone who thinks about love all the time,&rdquo Kaling says. &ldquo One thing that is different than other shows is that my character is weirdly, extremely confident. She feels like she should be dating Chris Evans. That&rsquo s something I learned from writing for Michael Scott. He thought he was going to marry Teri Hatcher, even though he was constantly being told that was not the case.&rdquo
EM: Jake Kasdan was really on top of that, too. We knew we were basing it in reality, and there were a lot of conversations about “Well, should they do traditional dress?” We talked about everything until we were blue in the face to make sure it felt like something that actually happens. There was definitely concern that the guys were dressed that way, and I think in the first draft they were all in traditional garb. We pulled back on that and just had Schmidt, because it felt like it was in his character to completely misunderstand the situation.
The show doesn&rsquo t shy away from Kaling&rsquo s ethnicity (when a car nearly runs into her as she&rsquo s drunkenly riding a stolen bike the wrong way down a street, she shouts out, &ldquo Racist!&rdquo ), but it isn&rsquo t heavy-handed about it, either. Kaling isn&rsquo t interested in having ethnic humor, or her skin color, or her gender define her. &ldquo I never want to be called the funniest Indian female comedian that exists,&rdquo she tells me. &ldquo I feel like I can go head-to-head with the best white, male comedy writers that are out there. Why would I want to self-categorize myself into a smaller group than I&rsquo m able to compete in?&rdquo
EM: It was one of those things that I was talking about with Alec Berg, who directed this episode, about the Seinfeld room. That story was making me laugh from every stage. I love when you’re in the writers’ room, that moment where you’re like, “I don’t know if we can we do this?” Having Schmidt try to buy crack, you’re right on the edge of “Is this okay?”, and that’s a good place to be and a good zone for us to be pushing boundaries and be kind of offensive and crazy and funny. And there were some emotional elements to it that felt like it was at a good place.
My first few hours of Dream Daddy , a new dating sim that’s tearing up the Steam charts, has given me some insight into his life, strangely enough. In this game you play as a father moving to a new neighborhood with your teenage daughter, Amanda. Your partner has died, and the two of you are downsizing. You dad is entirely customizable: the character creator comes with a wide range of skin tones and hairstyles—even Goku’s hair—and during the opening moments of the game, you can decide if your past partner was a man or a woman, or if Amanda was adopted or your biological child.